Can Man City’s Gabriel Jesus Become Highest Ever Scoring Brazilian In Premier League?

We’ve seen quite a few Brazilian stars ply their trade in the English Premier League since 1992 but not many of them have been free scoring strikers.

We’ve seen top defenders, industrious midfielders and creative forwards but the likes of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Adriano have decided against gracing the English top flight with their scoring talents.

Currently the leading Brazilian scorer in Premier League history is Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho with thirty-four goals. He’ll no doubt add to that tally given the Reds rebuffed Barcelona’s efforts to purchase the international playmaker this summer. But Coutinho isn’t an all out attacker, he plays a bit deeper.

After Coutinho, there’s Middlesbrough legend Juninho. The World Cup winner had three spells with Boro, scoring twenty-seven times in 126 appearances. The little magician retired in 2010.

Coutinho’s current teammate Roberto Firmino currently has twenty-three league strikes to his name and he has a much better goals to games ratio than his Anfield pal, so I’d imagine that Firmino will take Coutinho’s crown as long as he keeps scoring at the same rate he has so far in a Liverpool shirt.

But ultimately I think it will be Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus that will become the Premier League’s top scoring Brazilian.

The twenty year old has hit the ground running at the Etihad Stadium since his arrival in January. The £27m man has already grabbed himself eleven Premier League goals in just fifteen league appearances (thirteen starts). He has started all of City’s league games this term and has four goals in those five outings.

Jesus is fast, intelligent, willing to run and get himself in the right areas.

His goal against AFC Bournemouth highlighted his skill-set.

David Silva released the ball with an inch perfect pass but Jesus had already made a great run, which showed his Spanish teammate where to place the pass. Gabriel’s quick thinking gave him an advantage over defender Nathan Ake, the forward then showed he had the strength to hold off Ake before placing a controlled effort beyond keeper Asmir Begovic.

The Brazilian is also adept at holding onto the ball, playing with those around him, pressing up top and working back when needed.

He’s not as skilful as a Ronaldinho or as powerful as a Ronaldo but he certainly knows where the goal is and where to go to find space in the penalty area. That’s why the baulk of his strikes come from in and around the six yard box, it’s not by luck as it’s just instinctive and smart thinking as he sees things developing early.

His start to life in England has even surprised Citizen’s boss Pep Guardiola:

“Before we got him, we expected a lot of things, but not that impact as soon as possible,” 

“He will be the future striker in this club for the next years.”

The faith Pep has in Gabriel is quite extraordinary and that has seen the young Brazilian start ahead of Sergio Arguero on various occasions. The two South Americans can also play well as a two and they did so to great effect against Liverpool and Watford in recent weeks. They’ve clearly been working on their partnership and now work in tandem with one another.

Gabriel Jesus also has five goals for Brazil, that’s the same record as Firmino but the Man City forward reached the total in a quicker time.

I have no doubts that the young striker will continue to blossom under Guardiola’s guidance at Manchester City. I also believe he’ll break the twenty goal barrier in the Premier League this term, as long as he can stay away from injuries.

The twenty year old is very much on course to break any goalscoring records held by a Brazilian in the Premier League as he’s without doubt the best natural finishing Brazilian that has so far graced England’s top tier!


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Unai Emery Needs To Grow A Pair At PSG

You’d be forgiven to think that the only problems surrounding PSG would be how they deal with the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

In the summer the Ligue 1 giants brought in two of the hottest names currently in the game in Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. They’ve won six out of six in the French top flight and they fired five unanswered goals past Celtic away in Glasgow on their opening Champions League clash.

Yet last night the Qatari owned side showed some disturbing cracks within their squad, even as they secured a 2-0 victory over Lyon at the Parc des Princes.

Forwards Neymar and Edinson Cavani had not one but two on-field disagreements regarding a penalty (which Cavani missed) and a free-kick.

Now it’s hard to keep egos in check during a football match. Neymar will believe that he deserves the right to take spot kicks as the club paid a world record fee for his services, while Cavani will believe that his record at PSG should be respected and his loyalty to the club’s cause should give him priority.

I don’t mind such arguments on the park, although it obviously doesn’t look good and the Brazilian giving Cavani some earache before a pen will provide an unnecessary distraction for the centre forward. It certainly can’t be allowed to happen often.

The thing I take exception to was PSG boss Unai Emery’s response to the incident after the game:

“The penalties are to be struck by a few players, one is Cavani and the other is Neymar,” 

“It takes a gentleman’s agreement on the ground to hit the penalties.”

The Spaniard gaffer then stated that if such an agreement can’t be made then he might have to make the decision himself.

For me, the decision should always come from the coach. Emery has to take the responsibility away from the players and take it upon himself to decide.

I don’t mind if Unai decides to rotate between the two or hold a competition between his stars every Friday but he has to make his mind up before game time and let his men know.

Both Neymar and Cavani have confidence in their own abilities and both want to get on the scoresheet whenever possible, so they’ll always believe that they should be the one taking the crucial set-pieces. So you cannot expect them to decide on who takes the penalties during the game itself.

You can just see them in an important Champions League tie and they need one goal to win it. Then in the dying seconds they get awarded a spot kick. The two will be scrapping for the ball and then the eventual winner of the scape misses the valuable penalty kick.

Unai Emery cannot afford to let the inmates run the asylum. It’s fine giving your team some added responsibility but it can’t become a distraction as that will cause problems and splits within the squad.

The Spaniard needs to show his troops that he’s the boss and his word is final.

Are Liverpool Fans Finally Questioning Jurgen Klopp?

First off I’m not overly interested in the comparisons between Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and his predecessor Brendan Rodgers.

They had two very different teams.

Rodgers had an in-form world class Luis Suarez leading the line and scoring for fun. He also had a fit Daniel Sturridge working in tandem with the Uruguayan superstar. Then there was the Steven Gerrard factor, the midfielder might have been a veteran in the Rodgers era but he still had enough to pull Liverpool through certain games.

Rodgers did fantastically well in 2014.

German Klopp hasn’t had that world-class goalscorer or a fully fit Sturridge or a player that symbolises Liverpool like Gerrard did.

Klopp has brought in a much more fluid style of football that the Anfield fans have adored during much of his tenure.

But alas Jurgen’s side keep making the same mistakes and now, probably for the first time, the Liverpool support are starting to question their much loved boss.

They haven’t won in their last three outings.

Now I don’t think it’s hit levels where people are questioning his position at the club, nor should they, but they are quite clearly expecting more from Klopp and his side.

The fans are right to demand more and in the long run this current period could actually make Jurgen Klopp stronger at Anfield. He must know that he won’t get a free ride at Liverpool, the support want to see progression and want to challenge for major trophies.

Now it’s all very well having a fantastic frontline and Liverpool have that with the likes of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Frimino, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho. but you also need to have a strong defence and a very good goalkeeper.

I’m not a fan of Klopp’s decision to rotate his keepers as much as he does, especially when his goalies are Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius. Now I think they are decent but you need a better quality of goalkeeper in my opinion if you are going to win a top honour. That being said stick with one and give the other the League Cup and FA Cup games.

Klopp and the Anfield hierarchy knew that they needed to improve their central defensive area. That’s why they made a big play for Virgil van Djik but after fluffing that pursuit I can’t believe they couldn’t find another centre back to come in and improve the squad.

This week the centre of the defence has again came in for some stick. Sometimes they struggle with the basics and when one of Dejan Lovren or Joel Matip is missing, then Ragnar Klavan plays and he struggles to cope with the pressure. Twice against Burnley on Saturday, Klavan allowed Ben Mee a free header inside the Liverpool penalty area.

The defence struggle too many times to do the basics and that gives opponents a confidence to attack Liverpool and get points from a game that Liverpool should have tied up already.

Klopp and his management team can’t continue to believe that attack is the best form of defence. Teams are creating chances and the Reds defenders lose confidence each and every time they concede a goal. That’s filtering through onto the stands.

Things need to change at the back and Jurgen will need to spend on that area in January, hopefully the Reds won’t be out of the picture by then!

Again it hasn’t hit hysteria type levels but things need to improve and I believe that Klopp is the man to make those improvements as long as he understands that the fans won’t give him all the time in the world to fix the obvious problems.

Can Ander Herrera Fill Paul Pogba Void At Manchester United?

Manchester United have enjoyed a fine start to the season. They’ve won three out of their four Premier League games and they also recorded a comfortable win in their opening Champion League fixture of the campaign.

Midfield maverick Paul Pogba has been a catalyst to the Red Devils early season promise. The French star has two league goals and two assists to his name already. He has blossomed having Nemanja Matic playing beside him and the Serbian protecting the defence.

But the twenty-four year old picked up a hamstring injury in his side’s 3-0 victory over FC Basel in midweek. It’s not the first time the £89m man has suffered with his hamstrings and he could now miss the next six weeks of action, possibly more.

That means that United will have to find an able replacement, who can come in and help keep the momentum going at Old Trafford.

There’s a few options available to Man United boss Jose Mourinho.

Maybe they Portuguese tactician could use Juan Mata in a deeper role. The former Chelsea man usually plays further forward but he has played in the heart of midfield in the past. I don’t think Jose believes Mata  has the legs to help out in the engine room, so I’m unsure we’ll see him in there with Matic.

Dutchman Daley Blind has been used in that role before but with Matic now at United I doubt Mourinho will have another overly defensive minded player in the middle of the park. Matic does that job so well, that you can have another midfielder with a bit more attacking gusto in there.

We know that Jose Mourinho is a big fan of lanky midfielder Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian internationalist replaced Pogba on Tuesday night against the Swiss champions. In that game Felliani scored and definitely made an impact. The issue Felliani has is that Mourinho likes to use him from the bench to shore up games or to add a different focal point to a game if they’re chasing a goal. When he starts regularly the strong midfielder can often offer inconsistent performances.

For me, the standout player in the Man Utd squad that can come in and take-over Pogba’s load is Ander Herrera. 

The Spaniard has been used sparingly by Jose so far this term, he has only played 77 minutes of football (one start/one substitute appearance). That could work in Ander’s favour at this stage as he’ll be fresh and ready to show off his ability.

Now Herrera doesn’t offer United the same qualities that Pogba does. He’s not as dominant on the ball and he doesn’t burst forward with the same regularity.

What Herrera does have is great vision and a desire to add bite into the midfield.

Last season he figured in over thirty Premier League clashes, scoring just once but creating six assists for others in the group. The Spanish internationalist also had a passing success rate of over 87%.

Getting the ball to the wide areas could be vital while Pogba is missing and Herrera could be ideal in getting the passes out there on regular basis.

His passionate displays for United since his arrival in 2014 have led to comparisons with Man United legend Paul Scholes. With star man Paul Pogba out of the picture, the Red Devils could do with the craft, vision and passion that Herrera will give them.

Herrera also offers the best balance to fit in alongside Matic.

Last season he was one of Mourinho’s top talents:

‘Ander has both the manager and the fans. So I don’t think he’s worried about others bringing him to the limelight; he knows that he is having a phenomenal season for us.’

Recent reports suggest that the United gaffer and Ander have had a falling out. Even if these stories are true, Jose Mourinho isn’t a stupid football manager. He will play out of favour players if that’s the best thing for the team.

With Pogba’s injury, Ander Herrera now has a chance to regain his manager’s trust (if he needs to) and more importantly he can help Man United stay on track as they try and chase their title dreams.

Now maybe Jose will start with Felliani against Everton but I am sure Herrera will be the longer term solution for United.

Rangers Still Too Inconsistent In Scottish Premiership

Rangers dropped points at Firhill tonight and once again they didn’t make the most of a game they seemed to control.

It’s the third game in their first six Scottish Premiership fixtures that Rangers have dropped points in and that’s simply not good enough if they want to dominate in the league.

When I say dominate, I’m not even suggesting top spot I actually mean finishing in comfortably in second place and doing that by going on a significant winning run.

The problem Rangers have is that even when the boss halves of football, like they did in Maryhill for the first forty-five minutes, they struggle to put games to bed. In the second half Partick Thistle attacked, added more aggression to the game and found a way back into it.

Teams don’t fear playing the blue half of Glasgow at the moment, even when they are behind opponents still believe that they can get something from the encounter and that Rangers will give away opportunities.

Defensively the Gers still look weak. Playing with attack-minded fullbacks is all fine and good when you have the ball but when you’re on the back-foot and they struggle to get goal side then you have lots of problems.

Fabio Cardoso is still finding his feet in the Scottish game. The Portuguese defender struggles with the physicality that you get in the Scottish Premiership. He can be very naive in certain situations with Connor Sammon and Miles Storey capitalising on that a few times.  I wonder if it could be the right time to allow Fabio a break and giving Danny Wilson a run out in the first eleven.

You can still see Mexican duo Carlos Pena and Eduardo Herrera are also still getting to grips with the tempo and intensity that you get playing in Scotland. That won’t come for a few more weeks, at least.

Wingers Daniel Candeias and Josh Windass typify the inconsistency that has hampered Rangers this term. They’ve look bright, lively and dangerous in certain games and in others they’ve went missing and provided little in the way of a final ball. The two tonight were poor and they didn’t do enough to help their team’s cause.

Another player who has been struggling of late has been veteran forward Kenny Miller. The elder statesman has linked up well with new boy Alfredo Morelos but Miller hasn’t contributed enough in recent weeks and he needs to make a greater impact. Maybe that can come from the bench.

Talking about Morelos, the Colombian looks to be a great find and a man that can get goals. The youngster needs to watch his temperament though, a few times already this season he’s got involved in a few incidents that he needs to stay clear of. He also started to come too deep against Thistle and he needs to stay in and around the box, especially if he wants to grab the valuable goals his team needs. I think the blunt service didn’t help him tonight but he still needs to stay away from the halfway line.

As I’ve already stated, Rangers have dropped points in half of their league matches so far in this campaign and they’ve still not played Celtic, Aberdeen or St Johnstone. Those were the teams that finished in the top four last season and who have started brightly this term.

It’s champions Celtic up next in the Premiership and the Ibrox outfit need to give a good account of themselves in the Old Firm derby. Too many times last year, they were blown away by the Hoops. If things are getting better under Pedro Caixinha then they need to show it at home next weekend.

I’m still not sure Pedro understands that he needs to win games and go on a long winning run. If he does, then he’s struggling to forcefully get that point across to his team.

They continually let teams back into games and give away clearcut chances, do that against Celtic and it could be another heavy defeat.

If the Govan giants can finally find a winning consistency then maybe just maybe they can climb the table and cement a place in the top two!

Man United’s David De Gea Could Be Difference Maker In Champions League

Manchester United returned to the grand stage of the Champions League this week and didn’t look out of place as they defeated FC Basel 3-0 at Old Trafford.

Let’s be honest, Man United will have to face stiffer opposition if they want to reach the final stages of this year’s elite European competition and to get the better of those tougher teams then United’s world class stars will have to step up.

That could mean that goalkeeper David de Gea has to produce top level performances as he’s one of the key members in this current United squad.

I think the Spaniard is up there with the best keepers in the world but he’ll have to prove that this season, week in and week out.

Against Stoke City last weekend, De Gea pulled off a fantastic save and that was the difference between one point and no points at all. He managed to get his hand to a close Jese pointblank range shot and power the fierce effort over the bar. It really was a standout save.

The international was happy with his stop:

“I’ve made some good saves over the whole of my career, and that one was a really good one.”

He would go on to say that his save was spoiled by the fact Stoke managed to grab a draw at the Britannia. That shows you that he’s a perfectionist and a winner. That’s the type of spirit that this Man Utd team need this term as they look to challenge for top honours.

It should be noted that the Red Devil’s number one hadn’t conceded a Premier League goal until that draw in Staffordshire. He had three clean-sheets and also recorded yet another one against Swiss champions Basel.

The Champions League clash showed us another skill that De Gea has and will need this season.

While Basel only produced two shots on target, one of those was definitely goal bound until De Gea once again produced a fine save with his great reflexes. That shows us De Gea has strong concentration levels and can go through games watching most of the action before making a magnificent save out of nowhere, when called upon. Every keeper needs that in their locker at a superior team.

That stop also helped David earn his 100th clean-sheet since he joining Man Utd in 2011. That’s a phenomenal record.

The twenty-six year old has continued to improve and he’s without doubt a great goalie. He wins United plenty of points during a season and that’s a valuable asset for the club.

While Manchester United have improved going forward by bringing in goalscoring striker Romelu Lukaku, they still have a defence that can give away chances. So having a terrific goalkeeper in David de Gea could really be the difference in the biggest fixtures this term, especially in Europe.

That’s why Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho was determined to keep the Spaniard at the club amid strong interest from long-term suitors Real Madrid.


Spanish Core Keeps Chelsea Ticking

Premier League champions Chelsea have bounced back after a poor start to the campaign, they lost their opening game at home to Burnley.

Since that defeat at Stamford Bridge, the Blues have won four games in a row. The latest victory was a splendid 6-0 win over FK Qarabag. It wasn’t the Champions League debut that the Azerbaijani champions would’ve wanted but it was certainly a result that would have pelased the Chelsea support on their return to Europe’s most prestigious club competition.  

A big reason for the Blues upturn in fortune has to be down to the form of the Spanish players in their first team squad.

Boss Antonio Conte has five Spaniards to choose from (Diego Costa can’t be selected as he’s not in the country) and they’ve all done well for the club so far this term.

In that four game winning run, Chelsea have had to face last season’s runners-up in Tottenham Hostpur, top four challengers Everton and 2016 English top flight champs Leicester City.

In those four games, they have only conceded twice and have kept two clean-sheets.

Defensively Cesar Azpilicueta has been a mainstay for a while now. He adds strength, determination and versatility to the backline. He can also provide good passes and crosses from deep positions and already has two assists to his name, not bad for a player who predominantly plays in a back three. He managed to grab his first goal of the season in the win over Qarabag. He’s very smart and has to be one of the first names on Conte’s team-sheet due to his willingness to diligently carry out tasks and his commitment to the team’s cause.

Conte was full of praise for his defender after last night’s triumph:

‘Last season Azpi was one of the most important players for us,’ 

‘I think in this position, as a centre back he is one of the best of the world. I think this about him. He is very good with the ball and without it.’

When wing-back Marcos Alonso arrived many viewed him as just a squad player. But the former Fiorentina man’s persistence and his continued determination to keep on proving himself has won over any doubters. He’s very good in the tackle, is also dangerous going forward and not bad with a set-piece either. Has been an ever present so far this term and played in thirty-one games during his debut year. The left-sided player scored six times last season and scored a brace in the vital 2-1 win over local rivals Spurs at Wembley in August.

In April, the Chelsea boss stated that Marcos had become a far superior player to the one that arrived that previous summer:

“His contribution, it’s great,”  

“But Marcos, I think, is one of the players who has grown this season. He grew this season. He took a lot of confidence.”

Cesc Fabregas has vast experience at this level and his eye for a killer pass is still impeccable. The thirty year old might not play every minute but he still has the skill-set to cause opposition defences all types of problems. Has around 84% pass completion success rate this term and also makes around three key passes per game. Has one goal and one assist to his name already in this campaign.

Antonio Conte knows Fabregas has the temperament and experience that improves his squad:

“He is a great example to other players with his commitment and his behaviour every day during training sessions. He must continue this way because he is working well for us.”

In Pedro, Chelsea have a very talented and successful forward. He might not be seen as creative or as dynamic as Eden Hazard or Willian but he still provides graft and craft in the final third. Missed the start of the season due to injury concerns but now he’s getting back up to speed. Good with the ball at his feet, unselfish and a player with a keen eye for a vital goal. Scored in the Champions League and provided an assist for Alonso in the win over Tottenham.

Last season his gaffer was quick to show his respect for Pedro’s talent:

‘He is showing his quality,”

 “Pedro, we are not finding out now his quality. He is a great player in the same way like Hazard, Willian, Costa.”

This summer Chelsea spent big to bring Alvaro Morata to the club. The former Real Madrid and Juventus hitman has bagged himself three goals in his first four appearances for the Blues. Although primarily a goalscorer for the club the Spanish international striker has also provided two assists for his teammates. He has averaged three and a half shots per game and has led the line well. The record signing is technically gifted, has superior movement and great aerial ability. He will be one of the favourites for the golden boot award this term. He’ll only get better the more he plays in a Chelsea jersey.

Chelsea manager Antonio was impressed with Morata’s showing against Leicester last weekend:

“But for me it is very important to see that he is improving and he is more involved in our idea of football and for me that is the most important thing.”

“Then if he scores, I am very happy and I am pleased for the player.”

All the Spanish contingent are proving their worth for the team and they all have a winning mentality that can give Chelsea an edge. The majority of them will face Arsenal this weekend and hope to get one over the city rivals.

The Blues have a manager who demands the best and wants players that are committed and determined to improve themselves and the team. His five Spaniards embody the Conte spirit and have already made an impact on the team’s fortunes this year.

If they continue to show fight and inspiration then Chelsea will be challenging for titles yet again next May!

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Liverpool Need To Pick Up Points Against Sevilla In The Champions League

Liverpool Football Club return to the Champions League tonight and it’s a competition that they believe they belong in.

Their first encounter sees the Merseyside club face their biggest rivals Sevilla at Anfield in Group E.

It could be a vital to get a win over the La Liga side if Liverpool want to top the group.

The fixture has added significance due to side’s hefty 5-0 defeat by Manchester City last weekend.

Now that loss would have hurt Jurgen Klopp and his squad but it’s how they react to that kind of defeat that will show us if they are ready to push things forward this term.

They can’t afford to sulk and wallow in self pity, they need to show that they can learn from defeat and that they can come back stronger.

Up until that heavy loss in Manchester, Liverpool had looked good so far this season. In fact they had looked good at the Etihad until Sadio Mane was sent off.

They look sublime going forward but unfortunately for the Reds faithful they still look weak at the back.

Loris Karius will start in goal again, but the German never fills those around him with much confidence. I still think Klopp needs to find a better goalkeeper if they want to seriously challenge for top honours.

Hopefully Dejan Lovern will return to the backline because the Croat is a better bet than Ragnar Klavan.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Philippe Coutinho in the match day squad for this one, probably on the bench to begin with. The Brazilian could have an instant impact on things if his head is in the right place.

Although Liverpool believe that they belong in this elite tournament, it should be noted that they have only reached the group stages on two occasions in the last eight seasons.

So will they might struggle to get used to the high intensity and excitement the Champions League begins? That’s where Jurgen Klopp will come into his own and use his experience to make sure the squad doesn’t lose any focus.

Sevilla have a  fine European pedigree. The Spanish side have won the Europa League/UEFA Cup five times since 2006!

That said Los Rojiblancos did struggle to qualify this time around as they only just edged out Turkish outfit  Istanbul Basaksehir 4-3 on aggregate.

The Spaniards have yet to lose in La Liga so far in this campaign.

Former Stoke City man Steven N’Zonzi dictates things for Sevilla in midfield. The accurate passer can also conjure up a goal or two from deep positions.

Brazilian Ganso could have been a world beater and was a star in the same Santos side that Neymar played in. Unfortunately for Ganso injuries have plagued his career. The attacking midfielder has played in each of the Spanish league fixtures and has scored in his last two outings.

Sevilla also have creative force Nolito on their books now. The former Man City may feel he has a thing or two to prove on English soil.

It is an extremely tough fixture for Liverpool, especially after their heavy defeat on Saturday, but it’s an encounter that they should relish and one that they can win.

If they have aspirations to do well in Europe this season and to bounce back from that loss to Man City then a victory over Sevilla is a great way to start!